CLAYTON — Whenever a coaching change occurs there is an adjustment period. New rules, expectations and philosophies are introduced and most of the time not every player buys into the new regime and the changes that are implemented.
Now that Northmont Head coach Tony Broering has one season under his belt the transformation that began last season should translate into an improvement on last season’s 3-7 overall record.
Senior Brenden Reck returns at quarterback to lead the offense after starting seven games last year. Last season he completed 75 of 133 pass attempts (56.4 percent) and 923 yards with nine TDs and 8 interceptions.
“Brenden has had a great summer. He really understands the offense so we are light years ahead of what we were doing,” Broering stated. “We’ve cut some things out coaching wise that we did last year that we aren’t doing now and Brenden really has a good grasp and handle on the huddle and being the captain out there, an extension of me.”
There are 77 players on the team from freshmen to the senior class with 37 total freshmen.
“We have a lot of new guys, a lot of new faces and a lot of players that were big time starters for us the last few years, but we’ve had to fill some big shoes,” Broering said.
Returning to anchor the offensive line is starting center Alan Hackney (6-foot, 238 lbs.) and right tackle Jon Sherman (6-1, 286) is a three year starter.
“Having two experienced starters back will really help all the other guys,” Broering noted.
Sophomores last year that got some playing time include Chane Prysock (6-foot, 303), and Jalen Hinton (6-3, 300), but both have suffered some setback injuries that have given new faces some line work.
“Our offensive line, although it’s one of our better units, overall they’ve been dinged up so we still have work to do up there,” Broering said.
Returning receivers include Logan Zerkle and Jabari Perkins and new addition Tyree Trammel has had a big impact on the receiving corps according to Broering.
“The toughest thing was having to find a running back,” Broering stated. “We lost a very talented young man to graduation and it’s a difficult thing to figure out, so we’ve got two or three different guys that are running the ball for us.”
Those include Dominic Wilson (5-9, 160); Devin Kenerly (5-10, 213) who has played a lot of different positions for the team and Kelynn Taylor (5-10, 181) a junior that Broering says has really come on strong the last couple of weeks.
“It’s kind of like NFL style with multiple running backs… running back by committee stuff, but overall the offense has really done a good job of taking the information we’ve given them and implemented it on the practice field to hone their craft. They have really worked hard in practice to get better,” Broering commented.
Defensively the team lost a lot of lineman from last year’s lineup. Four of the five key defensive lineman from last year went on to play college football.
“We have some work to do on our defensive line, however if you asked me of all the position groups which one is the best right now it’s the defensive line,” Broering said. “There is eight or nine guys up there and you can only play three or four at a time, so we’ve got a big rotation and everyone is getting to play. A lot of them got some playing time here or there last year.”
The key defensive lineman is Alex Birt (6-3, 286), a big, strong, 4-year starter who Broering brought up as a freshman when he was handling the defensive coordinator duties.
“He is kind of the rock in the middle,” Broering said.
Also back is Ervin Besingi (6-foot, 207) who had a breakout season last year as a junior. Other players who have been in the program awhile and have done a good job include Chuck Saul (6-foot, 232) and Timmy Sexton (6-1, 203).
“An impact player on the defense who is new to us and is really something to watch is Gabe Newburg (6-4, 184),” Broering noted. “He wears No. 99 and he runs around on that field and you swear it’s J.J. Watt. He is big, he is strong, he is athletic and wow… does he change what you are doing. He is just so big and good. It’s hard to remember that he is only a sophomore. I will be talking to him in some advanced football lingo and then he will look at me and I will remember he is only a sophomore. He didn’t even play last year as a freshman, so we are lucky to have him. He has really helped us out.”
Other players that Broering said have done a good job are Quelin Holt (5-11, 250), Dylan Moran (6-1, 183), T.J. Freeman (6-1, 210) and Justin Syfox (5-8, 208).
“Like I said, there are probably eight or nine guys we can count on. The defensive line is so thick, so heavy, so deep that we are really counting on them to lead the defense,” Broering stated. “We played a lot of young guys last year on defense, so they are all back.”
Defensive backs Garrett McGough (5-10, 140), Cameron Rucker (5-10, 152), Dominic Wilson (5-9, 160), and linebacker Devin Kenerly (5-10, 213) are all back this year.
“All four of those players are all better just because whatever we see, they’ve already seen it and have already kind of lived through it, so it’s not a shock to their system,” Broering stated.
A few players at linebacker that didn’t get significant playing time last year include Jason Zile (5-11, 190) and Logan Jewsikow (5-7, 177), and sophomore Jestin Jacobs (6-3, 184) who is big and can run and Danny Lewis (5-9, 135).
“We’ve got guys out there on defense with experience, so we have the perfect mix on both sides of the ball,” Broering stated. “You have five to six guys who played last year and then five to six guys who are new who bring that new energy plus the experience, and that’s the way it is on offense. We have a true freshman on the offensive line in Seth Frantz (6-2, 291), and a first year sophomore David Weherley (6-foot, 314). They are big kids so they kind of bring that young energy on the offense and then you’ve got the old wise veterans like 3-year starter Jon Sherman and the same thing on defense with Alex Birt, who has been through all the wars and has seen all the blocking schemes and new face like Gabe and Jestin and Danny who are sophomores out there just trying to make plays.”
Broering said that this team is a fun group to coach and he feels blessed to have the players he has.
“They are great boys, they really are,” Broering added. “The senior class consists of 21 guys and they are awesome kids to work with and super people. Forget about football. The seniors this year, just like last year, if you needed something or needed help they are the kind of kids that you can count on to help you through it.”
The Thunderbolts open the season this Friday at home, 7 p.m. against Cincinnati Winton Woods.